Constructing anything well takes time, dedication and finesse. For 27 years, Jeff Scott has framed original fine art and prints, family portraits and heirlooms with museum quality as the sole framer for Big Horn Galleries in his hometown of Cody, WY. For the past two years, he’s also helped frame a boy’s life by being a Mentor Father for Fathers in the Field.
Named after the renowned American Old West soldier and showman “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the platform to minister into a boy’s life in Cody is as varied as the items Jeff frames. The unfettered, unrushed days spent together outdoors with his nine-year-old Field Buddy, Silas, are some of Jeff’s most memorable. “Spending all day fishing in the Rocky Mountains in the heart of ‘Grizzly Country’ then cooking up trout and sharing a meal or hunting Chukar partridge with my two bird dogs, Tess and Grace – those extended days with Silas are my favorite Fathers in the Field moments,” said Jeff.
Cody Missionary Alliance’s (CMA) Fathers in the Field Church Champion, Dave Ripley, introduced Jeff and Silas in August 2010 after receiving the blessing and support of Silas’ mom. Through divorce, Silas’ father lives in a different state, and as far as Jeff knows, has only contacted the boy twice in two years.
When Jeff’s three kids were young, he wanted the freedom to be a present and involved dad so he was happy to have the flexibility Big Horn Galleries granted him. To Jeff’s amazement and by God’s design, he made the transition from studying animal science at the University of Wyoming to becoming an artistic master framer with ease. A man with versatile passions and a deep-rooted and abiding love for kids, Jeff started Fellowship of Christian Athletes, with his friend and now pastor, Mick Wiest, a mainstay ministry in the local high school; he serves as president of a leadership-based wilderness youth camp and shares his heart for God and the outdoors with Silas through Fathers in the Field.
“Even though I’m getting older, the Lord keeps bringing me back to kids. He hasn’t released me from that responsibility,” said Jeff. It’s a responsibility not taken lightly. “My involvement in Fathers in the Field has made me accountable in the way I live my life, in what I do and say. It’s caused me to dig deeper into Scripture to fully understand how God’s heart breaks for the widows and fatherless. I have a growing burden to minister to boys like Silas who need to hear and experience the love and forgiveness the Lord desires to freely share.”
A major misstep in ministry is thinking it’s a one-way street, when in reality God uses our “here I am, send me” proclamations as an opportunity to transform our hearts, too. Through Jeff’s devotion to his Field Buddy, God is teaching him to choose love even on the days Silas is not responsive and their time together isn’t great. “I’ve learned I need to love Silas unconditionally by being consistent, persistent, patient, and faithful,” said Jeff. “If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. Silas needs to trust my word. He needs to count on it.”
Jeff’s commitment to building and sustaining trust reflects a recent Journey Talk he had with Silas about how the Heavenly Father will never leave or forsake him. Fortunately, Silas has other Christian influences in his life to support the strides Jeff is making to help fill the fatherless void in the boy’s life. Silas’ mom is a follower of Christ who attends CMA and his older brother Levi, age 10, has Mark Schauland as a Mentor Father.
“My wife’s involvement in Fathers in the Field also is a great complement to what I’m doing,” said Jeff. “Seeing us together is a good way to model for Silas what it’s like in a home when a wife and a husband have Christ at the center of their lives.” Although Jeff accepted Christ in 1988, “the Lord started working on me in 1982, the summer I married my wife,” said Jeff. “She became a Christian just before we were married. My wife’s prayers and consistency paid off after six years when I realized I was in trouble without Christ.”
When asked if he had any words of encouragement for other Mentor Fathers, Jeff shared a passage from the Gospel of John God placed on his heart. In the last chapter, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. “After affirming his love, Jesus replied to Peter, ‘Feed my sheep,’” said Jeff. “With Fathers in the Field, you get the opportunity to feed one of God’s sheep. What a blessing and encouragement that is. Doing as Christ commands by being a Mentor Father grows your faith.”
And what, Jeff asked, can we do for the Lord to show our love for him except to feed his sheep?